Not Done Yet

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 1:6, NIV) 

I am sure that the good work God began in you will continue until He completes it on the day when Jesus Christ comes again. – (Philippians 1:6, ERV) 

I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the He who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put His finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ! – (Philippians 1:6, TPT) 

Today, as I begin my 49th trip around the sun, I am extraordinarily grateful that God is not finished with me yet. He is faithful to continue to refine and grow us until the day that we meet Him face-to-face. Being well aware of my flaws and shortcomings, I am reassured that He is not finished with me yet. Though I can see the good that He has done in me, I know that God has not completed all that needs to be done. This is true for all of us who seek and trust in Him. God will refine us so that we may live out our days how He designed us to live. There is much comfort in His promises, for He is faithful to do what He says He will do. The Lord’s care for us is physical, emotional, spiritual and tangible. He refines us body, heart, soul and mind. Additionally, this brings great comfort, as my mom is still in process of healing from a stroke, a bit more than a year ago. He has brought her far, but I know He is not finished with her yet. She is light and life, joy and peace to all whom she meets, and I trust that He will continue to strengthen and empower her to do all that He has created her to do. May we ever be confident in the promises of God, for we are a work-in-progress that He is refining to more clearly reflect His light to the world. 

For I am convinced, 

That God is not done; 

Working, refining, 

All that He’s begun. 

As His created, 

God’s own work of art; 

He’s always faithful, 

To complete each start. 

His love is perfect, 

Always it endures; 

Challenges, changes, 

All who choose come near. 

Let our hearts respond, 

With love and with praise; 

Trusting He’s faithful, 

For all of our days. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are not finished with us yet. Thank You that You love us as we are, yet love us so much that You do not leave us that way. Thank You that we are a work in progress until we meet You face-to-face. Forgive us for getting in the way of all that You want to do in and through us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would embrace every bit of grace showered upon us to make us more like You. Show us how to love those around us in the way that You have designed us to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the work You have done, are doing, and will continue, all the days of our lives. Amen. 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does – Psalm 33:4

How Long?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? – (Psalm 13:2a, NIV)

My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word. – (Psalm 119:28, NIV)

How much longer must I cling to this constant grief? I’ve endured this shaking of my soul. – (Psalm 13:2a, TPT)

My life’s strength melts away with grief and sadness; come and strengthen me and encourage me with Your words. – (Psalm 119:28, TPT)

 

I have set aside personal reflection for public view on the shift in schooling for quite some time, due largely in part to weight of my own sorrow. You see, not only is this the loss of concluding this school year with my students, but it is my own children’s senior year, and the second spring in a row that I have been absent from both. Last year, two weeks from now, our entire world came to a crashing halt. My mom suffered a massive stroke, and we were unsure of what the outcome would be. Immediately, my husband and I made the drive over the mountains to be with her, and I made arrangements to take a leave of absence to remain with mom, as Mark returned home to be with our kids. Mom is a fighter, and did remarkably well as my sister and I were able be with her around the clock, and after all of my years of teaching, I had plenty of leave to stay on through the majority of the remaining school year. Because mom was thriving and making gains, I did not give myself room to grieve. Now, nearly a year later, I am in an entirely different circumstance, yet in a similar space of loss. There have been moments of sorrow and grief, but I have given little time or space to ponder or process. Then, yesterday, as I returned to school for my designated twenty minutes to pick up any supplies I might need from my classroom, the weight of reality began to set in. Silent hallways and classrooms without kids running around, laughing, or talking to one another, left a hollow void in my heart.

My friend and colleague has a remarkable way with capturing in words, moments, so eloquently, and when I read what she posted on Facebook as a reflection of her twenty minutes in her classroom, I found myself fighting back the sting of tears. It took deep, intentional breaths to not fully succumb to the depth of sorrow I was feeling as I read what she had written. My own boys had been in her very first sixth grade class, and she recognized and grieved for those seniors too. There is just so much…

The beauty in the brokenness is that we are not stuck in it. God is faithful to pick us up, dust us off, and grant us fresh resolve. He does strengthen us, and today, my goal and focus is to be prepared for our launch of distance learning, come Monday morning. Additionally, today is my day to email a check-in to my art students, so that holds some hope and joy as well. In all things, God has a way of bringing beauty from ashes. I look forward to seeing how all of this season changes our neighborhood, schools, city, state, and nation for the better.

 

Hollow empty halls,wp-15870437506012790305386090599192.jpg

That mirror my heart;

Loss of what should be,

This season apart.

Such sorrow in loss,

Of all that could be;

Lord help us rise up,

As Your hope sets free.

Even in losses,

You can bring gains;

Beauty from ashes,

For Your love remains.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hold us as we wrestle through our sorrow and heaviness, and You strengthen us with resolve once again. Thank You that You truly do bring beauty from ashes, and hope from despair. Forgive us for allow ourselves to sit in our sorrow too long, or for ignoring it and allowing the weight to burden us. Teach us to place all in Your hands, so that You can walk us through it into the good that You have in store for us. Show us how to love those around us well, even though we cannot see people the way we want to right now. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, and know the comfort and peace that You alone offer. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your comfort and strength in our sorrow, and anticipate the good that lies ahead. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

“…He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory.” – Isaiah 61:3

Wrestling for Blessing

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”  – (Genesis 32:28, NIV) 

Then the man said, “Your name will not be Jacob. Your name will now be Israel. I give you this name because you have fought with God and men, and you have won.” – (Genesis 32:28, ERV) 

You will no longer go by the name Jacob. From now on your name will be Israel because you have wrestled with God and humanity, and you have prevailed. – (Genesis 32:28, VOICE) 

 

After twenty years of hard physical labor and dealing with a father-in-law who had repeatedly changed Jacob’s wages and the agreement that the two had made, Jacob determined to take his wives, children and livestock back to the land from which he had come. After a week of traveling with the massive group of folks and flocks, Leban, his father-in-law, caught up to the caravan and had a discussion with Jacob. After the tension subsided, the two men reached an agreement, and parted ways. As the journey continued, they group neared the land of Jacob’s father. Jacob was afraid of how his brother, Esau, would respond to his return. He selected a large number of his livestock to gift to him, and sent servants with groups of animals ahead, in hope of pacifying his brother. Once everyone had gone on ahead of him, Jacob met a Man, with whom he wrestled all night. The One with whom he struggled, told him to stop, but Jacob insisted that they continue until he was blessed by Him. Verse twenty-eight is the response given by the One with whom Jacob wrestled. Jacob had struggled with man and God, and now was receiving the blessing for which he was asking. Both commentaries that I read surrounding this passage, pointed out that with the change of name, came also, a change of heart. A personal encounter with God changed Jacob forever. Likewise, an encounter with God changes us forever too. Our persistence to persevere, even in the struggle, results in the Lord’s presence and His help. Though it is unlikely that any of us with physically wrestle with God Himself, (or an angel messenger, as different commentaries suggest that it was either God Himself, or one of His messengers) we will however, struggle with our circumstances and our faith. The more we seek Him, the stronger our trust becomes, fueling faith for every future endeavor. May we fearlessly wrestle with the struggles that come our way, as we depend on God to strengthen and sustain us, in all things and at all times. 

 

Though we may wrestle, f9d3a1df-a6ed-4149-9c89-54ddf9a6f9788443963905273144234.jpg

With our circumstance; 

Lord God, Almighty, 

Will help us advance. 

For as we seek God, 

He hears our heart cry; 

Strengthens our resolve, 

And hope to choose try. 

The blessings do come, 

As we choose persist; 

Hope, strength and His love, 

Things that prayer enlist. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hear us as we call out to You. Thank You that though we may wrestle with our circumstances and our faith, You never falter, and hear our heart’s cry. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would run to You and lay our need before You, knowing that You hear and help those who seek You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that displays Your faithfulness, strength and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we press on and pursue You in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing,May 2011 – present 

 

Blessed are those who keep His statutes and seek Him with all their heart. – Psalm 119:2

Nothing Without Love

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or clanging symbol. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-2, NLT)

I may speak in different languages, whether human or even of angels. But if I don’t have love, I am only a noisy bell or a ringing cymbal. I may have the gift of prophecy, I may understand all secrets and know everything there is to know, and I may have faith so great that I can move mountains. But even with all this, if I don’t have love, I am nothing. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-2, ERV)

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all His mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-2, MSG)

 

Yes, wisdom, knowledge and faith are all good things, but without love, they are nothing. Our first priority ought to be love. We are called to love God and love people. As we do both, we grow in wisdom, knowledge and faith. The choice to love, despite what we are given, opens our understanding, and shows us more of His heart for us. Often, as we make love our priority, God changes both the hearts of the recipients and the perspective of the giver. Love is patient and love is kind, and love always protects. The challenge is when we are caught in between caring for one and protecting many others. God is faithful and just, and I will trust that He will bring light where darkness is trying to reign, and that His love will lead the way. May we make love our priority in all things, so that every word and deed are shaped by His love.

 

Gifted with speaking, Faithful Obedience

Linguistic wisdom;

Is all meaningless,

If not done in love.

Wisdom and insight,

Vast understanding;

Along with great faith,

Less love, lack meaning.

So seek understand,

But let’s choose love first;

For that is how God,

Loves despite our worst.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that above all, You call us to love. Thank You that love is unpacked for us further as we read on in chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians. Forgive us for turning to wisdom or our own human understanding without love. Teach us to trust You more, so that love would lead us in all things. Show us how to love others as You would have us love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in love in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Listen… be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. – Proverbs 23:19

Accept One Another

Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. – (Romans 15:7, NLT)

Christ accepted you, so you should accept each other. This will bring honor to God. – (Romans 15:7, ERV)

So accept one another in the same way the Anointed has accepted you so that God will get the praise He is due. – (Romans 15:7, VOICE)

 

We are called to accept others in the same way that Christ has accepted us – with open arms that see the good, not highlight the flaws. God does not look at us and immediately go into “fix it ” mode, but rather He sees us in love. It is through coming to understand the depth of His love and grace that we are compelled to make changes so that our lives will more clearly reflect His light through our own. The more we know Him, the greater our desire to do as He has done for us. May we ever seek to grow in our understanding of who God is and how great His love is, so that we may go forth and love others as we are loved by God.

 

We’re called to go forth, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And love as we’re loved;

Received, accepted,

By grace from above.

As we do the same,

Accept each other;

God’s given glory,

Grace to discover.

So, let us choose love,

As Christ has loved us;

All praise to the Name,

Of our Lord Jesus.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love and accept us, just as we are, even in our broken and messy spaces. Thank You that Your love is what cleanses and heals us. Thank You that You only call us to do that which You have already done, and are willing to strengthen and equip us to do as well. Forgive us for withholding love or acceptance from anyone, and teach us to trust You more, so that we extend the same acceptance to others that You give to us. Show us how to love and accept all those around us in a way that blesses them and honors You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we accept others just as You have accepted us. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

Discarding Doubt

I cried out, “I am slipping!” But Your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, Your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. – (Psalm 94:19, NLT)

I was very worried and upset, but You comforted me and made me happy. – (Psalm 94:19, ERV)

When I was upset and beside myself, You calmed me down and cheered me up. – (Psalm 94:19, MSG)

 

When fear, doubt, anxiety or worry enter in, we tend to get a bit rattled. Incredibly, it takes little time in the presence of God, to find comfort and calm where chaos was attempting to reign. As we call on the Lord, His love brings comfort, and renews our hearts and minds with hope, which changes our countenance from doubtful to confident in Him. Some situations and circumstances are longer lasting, and require our ongoing pursuit of our Provider. It is in such times that He often surrounds us with dear ones to rally around us, that remind us daily that He is near, through the tangible presence of people who love and support, just as He does. May we always remember to cry out to the Lord of unfailing love when doubts fill our minds, and be ever available to walk beside those who are in a season of distress.

 

When worry and doubt, Discarding Doubt

Rise up and draw near;

Cry out to the Lord,

Our calmer of fears.

It is by His love,

That comfort is found;

Calm and hope renewed,

And minds are made sound.

Let’s ever cry out,

To God of all grace;

For He’s our comfort,

As we seek His face.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your unfailing love that supports us and comforts us when doubts fill our minds. Thank You that You renew our hope and cheer. Forgive us for wallowing in our worry rather than crying out to You for help and comfort. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You the second that fears or doubts attempt to enter in. Show us how to love those around us in a way that brings comfort and peace in the midst of trials, and offers hope when little is felt or seen. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we cry out to You and trust in Your unfailing love, as You support, comfort and renew our hope with Your goodness and grace. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Listen… be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. – Proverbs 23:19

Where Good Comes From

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts shifting shadows. – (James 1:17, NLT)

Everything good comes from God. Every perfect gift is from Him. These good gifts come down from the Father who made all the lights in the sky. But God never changes like the shadows from those lights. He is always the same. – (James 1:17, ERV)

Every good gift bestowed, every perfect gift received comes to us from above, courtesy of the Father of lights. He is consistent. He won’t change His mind or play tricks in the shadows. – (James 1:17, VOICE)

 

All that is good, all that is lovely, all that is worthy of praise, exists because God gives. The trials and troubles that come are not given by God, but rather occur because sin, brokenness, and free will are part of our reality. Even in the midst of our struggles, God is still good, and remains present with us. As the days grow longer, it is a tangible reminder that He is the Father of lights. He times the sun to rise and set, and paints brilliant colors in the process. On dreary days, light still appears, and then darkness returns at day’s end. Just as the coming of a new day is consistent, so too is our God. He doesn’t take time off, nor does He neglect the cries of His people. When we call on Him, He hears. May we ever give praise for every good and perfect gift that comes from God, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

 

Every good gift,Forgiveness is Free

That comes from above;

Is given to us,

In God’s perfect love.

The Father of lights,

Continues to show;

How faithful His love,

So our hearts may know.

He never changes,

His love shall remain;

All good gifts from God,

Our hope to now claim.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that every good and perfect gift comes from You. Thank You that You are the Father of lights, and that You do not change nor try to trick us like the light of shifting shadows. Forgive us for forgetting how very faithful and consistent You are. Teach us to give You thanks for every good gift, and to seek Your help in times of trouble. Show us how to love well, all those whom You place in our lives. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we appreciate every good and perfect gift from You, and seek You in all things. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7

The Hope that Upholds

Don’t forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner. Hold up through the hard times that are coming and devote yourselves to prayer. – (Romans 12:12, VOICE)

Be happy because of the hope you have. Be patient when you have troubles. Pray all the time. – (Romans 12:12, ERV)

 

This is a timely reminder, as this particular stretch of the school year is the longest and most difficult season. Students struggle to stay focused, and stress out over the impending state testing. Furthermore, I think they begin to realize that the year is drawing to a close, and the sense of security that has been established at school, will be gone in six short weeks. As the benefactor of the bad behaviors, it is often difficult to remember that there is reason for the rebellion. I am called to pray and be patient, as I have hope in knowing that there is so much more than the difficult days that I feel stuck in at times, in the right now. God has promised so much more. Despite what I see or experience in the present, I can be happy and rejoice in the knowledge that there is hope that lies in what is yet to come. The incredible thing that I find, is that often when I am able to fix my eyes on the joy that lies before me, rather than the rough that I am in, those around me seem to grab hold of the joy as well, and something changes – even if it is only a glimmer of good in what had seemingly gone horribly wrong. May we ever remember our reason to rejoice and have patience in our times of trouble. Let our first response be to pray, as hope in Him will light our way.

 

When hard times come near,Enter With Thanksgiving

Forget not rejoice;

For in Christ there’s hope,

Our happiest choice.

Let us ever pray,

In good times and bad;

For He’s the answer,

And makes our hearts glad.

No matter what’s seen,

In Him we shall know;

Hope that’s forever,

As love and grace flow.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can have joy and rejoice in You, because of the hope that You alone provide. No matter what we see or what we are living in, there is always better that will come through You. Thank You that when we pray to You, You hear our prayers. Thank You that You give us patience when we are in the midst of the difficult. Forgive us for our lack of hope and joy, as we forget to set our hearts to pray in all things. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would devote ourselves to pray in all things and at all times, so that we would be patient in times of trouble, and have hope no matter what we see. Show us how to love others, so that we would offer Your goodness and grace in such a way that they too would come to know the hope that is found in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rejoice in the hope we have in You, and choose to pray at all times. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. – Ephesians 2:4-5

We Are Commanded to Love

If we say we love God but hate any of our brothers or sisters in His family, we are liars. If we don’t love someone we have seen, how can we love God? We have never even seen Him. God gave us this command: If we love God, we must also love each other as brothers and sisters. – (1 John 4:20-21, ERV)

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. – (1 John 4:20-21, NIV)

 

We cannot both love and hate and still live as children of God. The command that we have been given is to love God and love people. It does not mean that we will adore everyone we meet, but rather our hearts can have His intentions for all – kindness, compassion, and light, just as He loves us. Often, it takes time and prayer to view others through Christ’s lens. Everyone has a story and each of us have been created with a purpose. No one is more or less valuable to God. When we come to a place where we allow our eyes to focus through His filter, we become better equipped to see the good, or at least the need, to love those around us. Though we cannot see God, clear evidence of His existence is everywhere. Likewise, though we may not know why a person is the way they are, if they have life and breath, they are here for a reason and need and deserve love – the same as each of us. May we seek the Lord and His loving grace, so that we may go forth and love well, all whom He places in our path.

 

God calls us to love,Faith and Hope in Action

Love cannot be earned;

Brothers and sisters,

True love can be learned.

For as we love God,

He changes our heart;

Gives us eyes to see,

And grace He imparts.

For we aren’t of God,

If love’s not our choice;

To extend to all,

With heart, hand and voice.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only command us to love You and love those around us as sisters and brothers, but You show us how to love and grant us what we need so that we may love as we are loved. Forgive us for our lack of love toward our sisters and brothers, and teach us to love others in tangible and practical ways. Show us how to love those whom we see, so that they might seek You, whom they do not. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and depend on You and Your direction and grace, to love those around us as You call us to love. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

The joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

Our Constant in Continual Change

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. – (Hebrews 13:8, NLT)

 

In this day and age where so much changes at a pace that is impossible to track, the place where peace is found is in Christ. His love is constant, and His faithfulness does not waiver. The promises of God that were presented in the beginning, hold true and remain our hope from now unto eternity. Regardless of the rapid rate at which our surroundings switch, our Savior is constant, and we can steady our hearts and our hope in Him. May we trust in the Lord with all of our heart, and lean on Him for understanding. For no matter what comes, His love and presence remain consistent and true for all time.

 

No matter what comes,The Reason for Reverence

Or how things do change;

Jesus is constant,

And His love remains.

What was yesterday,

Holds true still today;

Will be tomorrow,

His faithfulness stays.

So fear not, dear ones,

The Lord’s ever near;

Though life’s uncertain,

In God, there’s no fear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the same yesterday, today and forever. Thank You that we need not fear when everything around us changes before our eyes, as long as we place our hope in You. Thank You that You hold us in the palm of Your hands, and steady us when we feel weary. Forgive us for our fear of change that continues around us. Show us Your presence in the new that surrounds. Teach us to trust You, even when we cannot see how change could possibly be a good thing. Lead us to love those around us well, so that we may provide consistency in an ever-changing world. Help us to be Your light before all those whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we cling to You to be our constant in this ever-changing world. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. – 1 Peter 2:19